How important is disambiguation with a really common last name?
I have a very unusual last name - so much so that, even though my first name is relatively common, I am the ONLY person with my name in the world... at least according to Google and Facebook searches. (This is actually true of both my parents, too, even though my mom has the 5th most common first name for her generation.) This is sometimes great, but also sometimes very inconvenient, as it's very easy to find out almost anything about me online. This has sometimes been a negative in dating, employment, and just general privacy, I've found... I only imagine this will get worse as more and more info goes online. I'm just lucky that something like Facebook didn't exist when I was really young and stupid. With my name, I'd never get away from it. I kept my maiden name because I liked it and the originality of it, but as I am getting older and the internet trail just keeps getting longer, I've been thinking about taking my husband's name solely to make myself unsearchable.
My husband, on the other hand, has a very common last name - the world's most common last name, actually, Li - and a pretty common first name. There are literally thousands and thousands of people with his name, which makes it nearly impossible to find him online and completely protects his privacy. On the other hand, he knows several people with his exact same name, first and last... so much so that for awhile, among his group of friends, he was known as "medium" [name], to distinguish him from "little" [name] and "big" [name]. He has never minded this at all.
We are trying to name our daughter, who will have my unusual last name as a middle name and my husband's common last name. Most of the first names I've suggested are relatively common - Vivian, Caroline, Margaret, Elena, Magdalena. Another poster suggested I should pick the most unusual (Magdalena) for the sake of disambiguation. Now, aside from the fact that I don't think it's that easy to disambiguate when you have the world's most common last name, I'm not sure that in a digital world that it's really that wise to do so. (Having my last name as a middle name won't differentiate too much, I think, because middle names are rarely used. But she would almost certainly be the only person on earth with that full name, even if we chose a first name like Sophia.)
What do you think? How important do you think it is to try and disambiguate our daughter? Or is a certain amount of anonymity really a gift?
Tue, 08/07/2012 - 1:09am